Model:  Pre 80s       Wedge       S Series       Griffith       Chimaera       Cerbera       Tuscan       Tamora       T350       Sagaris 
Trevor Wilkinson Era
Founded in 1947 by a 23 year old engineer from Blackpool named Trevor Wilkinson, Trevcar Motors started business producing and selling parts for army vehicles. The success of the business enabled its founder to follow his dream of producing a sports car capable of competing in and winning competition events, sprints and hill climbs. His first vehicle was a one-off light alloy special based on an Alvis Firebird rolling chassis; it was from this moment the story of TVR began.
The first TVR was completed by 1949 and was based upon a steel tubular chassis housing a Ford 100E engine to which Trevor added his own design aluminium body. By 1953 development gave rise to a car based on a new chassis housed by a lightweight glass-reinforced plastic (fibreglass) body, a concept which has been carried forward to this day. Around 20 of these vehicles were constructed. In 1954 Trevor finally changed the name of the company to TVR using three consonants from his first name, before designing the all new steel tubular backboned chassis in 1955, to which all TVR's to date are derived.
The first true production run was planned in 1957 with the assistance of Ray Saidel, an American who became the first TVR dealer. He helped to design and test a car that was dubbed the Jomar, taken from the names of Saidels two children (JOhn and MARgaret). The car proved to be very popular, and so many orders were received that production demands could not be met. TVR Engineering had to seek financial backing.
The first series finally started on a make-to-order basis in 1958 with the TVR Mk I, later to become known as the Grantura Mk I. The long nosed design with wraparound rear window meant the car was good looking as well as fast and agile, however facing severe financial difficulties TVR was renamed Layton Sports Cars Ltd. at the end of 1958. Production remained in disarray, leading Saidel to relinquish his dealership. Closing the American market (which was TVRs largest) was devastating, and orders quickly tailed off. In 1959 Grantura Engineering was established to supply components to the company, with final assembly conducted at Layton Sports Cars. Trevor Wilkinson was gradually being edged out of the company.
A John Thurner designed chassis led to the release of the Grantura Mk II in 1960, with a reworked Grantura Mk IIa including front brakes as standard released in 1961. A prototype Grantura Mk III was finished in 1962 and housed a new 1798 cc M.G. engine. Having no real control over the company anymore Trevor Wilkinson resigned in 1962, the company ended the year in receivership.
At some point in 1962, legend has it, an AC Cobra and a TVR Grantura were in Jack Griffiths New York workshops. The mechanics, naturally, decided to see if the Cobras V8 would fit in the Grantura. It did. Well it almost did. Griffith decided to do a proper conversion on a MK III and found it to be a very quick car. TVR ended 1962 in receivership. In 1963 the line is continued by Grantura Engineering. In 1963 Griffith decides to sell V8 engined TVRs in the US and the Griffith 200 is born. The cars are good for 150mph. In 1964 the body is restyled with a new tail utilising Ford Cortina ban the bomb lights. This new style was used for the MG engined Grantura MK III 1800S and the Griffith 400. At this time around 90% of production was going to the USA. The first attempt to move away from the traditional TVR body was begun when Trevor Fiore designed the Trident. In 1965 the Griffith finally makes it to the UK market, the Trident was shown at Geneva to great acclaim and Jack Griffith ended his association with Grantura Engineering. The company was again having money problems and sliding toward bankruptcy.
Martin Lilley Era
November of 1965 brought about a change of fortunes when the business was purchased by Arthur and Martin Lilley who were shareholders of Grantura Engineering.
The companys name was changed again, back to TVR Engineering, bringing with it a higher level of finish and quality control, failures of which had partly been responsible for slow sales. Facing the problems associated with turning what was left of the company into a going concern, some cars were assembled using remaining parts. Some cars were even exported to the US, this time imported by Gerry Sagerman. Production of the Grantura continued with the launch of the Mk IV 1800S in 1966.
In 1966 at the show in Turin, TVR showed their TVR Tina Spyder designed by Fiore, Fall 1967 at Paris they first showed the coupe. The sharp front end came under criticism and due to the intend to sell the car also in large numbers to the US it had been smoothened. Two cars were shown at the London Motor show and publicly acclaimed, as was the earlier design by Fiore, the Trident. Nevertheless, due to various reasons, costs being the main one, capacity another, the Tina never reached production.
In an effort to resume the tradition established with the V8 Griffith, but without its negative stigma, Lilley commissioned the Tuscan series. To bolster this new car, and to replace the aging Grantura, he also oversaw the creation of the Vixen S1 powered by a Ford Kent engine for the 1968 model year. These new cars were tremendous improvements in both performance and quality over their predecessors, and they started the long journey of turning TVR into a world-class sports car company. In 1968 the 'wide bodied' Tuscan arrived, setting in place the styling cues for future models. The popularity of the Vixen marked the release of the S2 that year, before the Tuscan V6 in 1969.
To cope with increased demand of 25 cars a month, the company moved into its new premises at Bristol Avenue from Hoo Hill in 1970. Martin Lilley did not however wish to expand the production further, instead preferring to keep sales limited and his cars exclusive, as always the core focus of the company remained on performance, design and uniqueness. A new Vixen S3 was introduced later that year, but in order to meet US emission laws a new engine had to be introduced, namely the straight 6 Triumph TR6 in the Vixen 2500 during 1971. To make production easier and eliminate some of the problems with the earlier chassis, the M Series was introduced in 1972 and consisted of three models, the Ford Kent powered 1600M and Ford Essex V6 driven 3000M for domestic markets, and the Triumph engined 2500M for the States.
In 1974, John Wadman (the president of the Canada-based import company TVR North America) began a project to replace the Triumph 2.5L engine in a silver 2500M with a Ford 302 cu in V8. Wadman handled the engineering of the conversion, which involved the use of different engine mounts, radiator, and springs. The Ford V8 was mated to a BorgWarner T-4 gearbox with a rear differential from the Chevrolet Corvette, and the resultant 5000M was shown at the 1975 Toronto International Auto Show.
On the 3rd January 1975 disaster struck as a fire destroyed large parts of the factory and numerous vehicles. TVR NA ordered and pre-paid six cars from the manufacturer. This gesture helped to secure future support from TVR for Wadmans V8 conversions: the factory eventually supplied five M Series coupes without engines or transmissions, specifically for the purpose of V8 installations. TVR NA also converted three cars that were originally equipped with the Ford Essex V6, but that arrived from the factory with cracks in the cylinder block. With the future of the business once again in question, the dedication of the workforce meant that the first post fire car was produced by just April, although it took a year until the company had recovered its full production potential. Making its comeback official at the 1975 motor show, TVR introduced the 3000M Turbo. In 1976 the Taimar was released adding a hatchback to the range, and in 1978 the TVR Convertible was developed, later to be renamed the 3000S. In the same year, the factory built a car (painted white with a brown stripe) that was designated 5000M; this was also shipped to Canada for a V8 installation. Work had also stated on a completely new car under the guidance of ex Lotus engineer Oliver Winterbottom. Finally released in November of 1979, the Tasmin 200 offered a Ford Pinto engine whilst the Tasmin 280 housed a Ford Cologne V6, both available as a soft top and hard top. By 1981 sales were beginning to slump and the release of Tasmin +2 did little to solve this problem. TVR was again on shaky ground.
Peter Wheeler Era
Towards the end of 1981 Peter Wheeler, a chemical engineer from Yorkshire, heard news of Martin Lilley's intention to sell the business and so decided to take the company over. Sales started to pick up over the next couple of years and production of the Tasmin continued
A few turbo cars were built and shown but thoughts were turning to a new engine. The 2 litre cars were not selling and the decision was made to move up to the ex Buick 3.5 litre Rover V8 . In 1983 the 350i was introduced and the Tasmin 280 became the 280i. 1984 was the year the Tasmin 200 expired and TVR started increasing the size and potency of the Rover powerplant. The 390SE was the start of a push toward higer and higher performance, indeed a few escaped the factory with 4.2 litre engines! Unfortunately the shape of the Tasmin was confining the potential market reach of the company.
A new chapter in TVRs history was introduced with the birth of the S, which went into production in 1987. Although it looked superficially like the M Series, it was an all-new car and with its stunningly low price, it transformed TVRs fortunes and saw production almost double in a year.
Peter Wheeler's next big announcement came in 1988 with plans for the Tuscan Challenge Racing Series, for which the Tuscan Racer was developed. Built exclusively for racing the Tuscan was constructed around a heavily modified S Series chassis and powered by a 3.5 litre V8 engine.
Experience gained from the racing series proved to be invaluable and at the 1989 motor show the new TVR Griffith was introduced to the general public. The reception was phenomenal with orders for the car placed on average every 8 minutes, over 350 pre-orders were taken. The Griffith finally went into production in 1992 with the chassis based on the Tuscan Racer and the car powered initially by a 4.0 litre Rover V8. Subsequent models utilised 4.2 litre and 5.0 litre versions of the Rover V8. Work on the development of an in house engine started in 1992 to relieve the dependence of the company on other manufacturers.
In 1993 the Chimaera was released and production was split with the Griffith. With a new look, softer suspension and a large boot, it too was an instant success and quickly became TVR's best seller. More than ten thousand of them have been built, making it the most popular TVR ever.
By 1996 TVR had completed the development and testing of the 4.2 litre AJP V8 engine, the powertrain for the Cerbera, allowing the car to go into production shortly after. This was the first 2+2 released by the company and was held in esteem by the press as TVR's first supercar, capable of competing with the world's best. Further engine development led to the production of another famous power plant, the TVR Speed 6 in 1997. This was offered as an alternative to the V8 in the Cerbera, but more importantly was produced with the intention of driving all new future models. This however was not the only other engine produced by the company; developed with racing in mind the 7.7 litre V12 engine was first realised in 1998 where it powered the Speed Twelve in the GT1 racing class, before driving the Cerbera Speed Twelve to victory in its maiden race at Silverstone in 2000. A road legal derivative the Cerbera Speed Twelve was explored but was deemed too infeasible to produce, only one of these vehicles was ever sold to the public.
In 1998, the new Tuscan was unveiled to the public at the British Motor Show and production finally commenced in 2000. The curvaceous, almost surreal design of the car captivated the market and sales flooded in for the new model.
What followed was the introduction of the Tamora, a convertible with more subtle styling.
The T350 in 2002 was based on the Tamora. Each of these models was based along the same tubular steel chassis and utilised the straight six engine. During 2002 development of the Typhon also commenced, but unfortunately due to manufacturing costs a true series production has never been realised.
Towards the end of 2003 TVR released the prototype Sagaris, a race inspired model based upon the T350. Boasting the same 4.0 litre Speed 6 engine as the Tuscan S, a revised chassis and radical new design features the Sagaris took the press by storm.
A new year brought a new prototype with the Tuscan Mk II unveiled in 2004 as both a targa and convertible, possessing a more refined design and entirely new interior. However, shortly after this Peter Wheeler decided to sell TVR.
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